iPad Air reviews go live, highlight thinner & lighter form factor, battery life, and speed improvements

Apple-iPad-event-2013 2013-10-22 at 2.07.02 PM

During last week’s media event, Apple announced a new model of the iPad that is lighter and thinner than the previous generation. The iPad Air weighs only one pound and improved internals. The new tablet features the same 64-bit A7 processor found in the new iPhone 5s, support for MIMO Wi-Fi, and an improved FaceTime camera. All of this is packed into a 7.5mm case, a noticeable improvement over the previous 9.4mm fourth-generation iPad.

Tonight, tech writers across the web published their reviews of the iPad Air. The reviews are mostly positive, with much emphasis on the new form factor, battery life, and faster processor. You can find links and highlights for each review below.

Brad Molen – Engadget

Surprise: the iPad Air is the best iPad we’ve reviewed. In addition, though, it’s also the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever tested. In addition, though, it’s also the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever tested. Not every manufacturer can produce a thin and light device without also making it feel cheap or flimsy, but Apple nailed it. Factor in a sizable boost in performance and battery life, and the Air is even more compelling. The last two iPads served up relatively few improvements, but the Air provides people with more of a reason to upgrade or even buy a tablet for the first time.

Tim Stevens – Cnet

If you found yourself tuning out the last few generations of iPad thanks to their extreme familiarity, it’s time to get yourself dialed back in. The iPad Air is worth getting excited about. Though it brings no new functionality to the table, and we can’t help being disappointed about the lack of Touch ID, the performance increase and solid battery life show that progress is still being made on the inside. It’s the new exterior design, however, that really impresses. The iPad Air is thinner than any tablet this size deserves to be, and lighter, too. The old iPad always felt surprisingly hefty. This one, compellingly lithe.

Darrell Etherington – TechCrunch

Having used primarily an iPad mini for the past year, there’s no question that coming back to the 9.7-inch Retina display was an uplifting experience. It felt a little like getting your prescription adjusted and realizing you’ve been seeing everything poorly for a long time. Video shines on the iPad Air, as does image-rich content like comic books and photos.

Not to mention that all that extra space makes for a much more comfortable browsing experience, and offers a lot of benefits when it comes to content creation. It doesn’t feel arduous doing work on the iPad; you can start to remember why people touted the iPad as a PC-killer when it debuted, and it edges ever closer to being able to truly replace notebooks for the majority of everyday users…

The Smart Case makes the iPad Air feel quite a bit more bulky, in my opinion, and is fairly difficult to get off once its on. On the other hand, it’s definitely more protective than the Smart Case, and it’s still relatively svelte. Apple has also nailed its leather case designs in terms of putting out a product that feels very high quality, and that’s what they’ve done here, too.

David Pogue

That big public yawn must drive Apple’s engineers crazy. The thing is, making the iPad smaller, lighter, and faster without sacrificing battery life or beauty is a tremendous achievement.

This isn’t a device that sits or hangs in one place its whole life. It’s not a microwave or a TV. You have to hold this thing while you’re using it, and carry it around when you’re not. So size and weight matter a lot.

Still, at $500, an iPad probably doesn’t need replacing every year or even every other year; if you have a 2012 or 2013 model, stick with what you’ve got.

On the other hand, you’ll find the Air a fantastic leap into the future if you’re upgrading from an original iPad, or if you’ve never owned a tablet before.

Walt Mossberg – The Wall Street Journal

The battery performance of the iPad Air simply blew me away. In my tough tablet battery test, where I disable automatic screen dimming and other power-saving features, and combine video playback from the device’s memory with leaving Wi-Fi on and email working at normal settings, the iPad has almost always met its claims and beat competitors by a wide margin.
But this new iPad Air just kept going, clocking a battery life of 12 hours and 13 minutes, which exceeded Apple’s claim by more than 20%. The company says its A7 chip, combined with the fact it controls its own operating system, gives the new iPad the ability to tailor under-the-hood processes so unneeded drains on the battery can be minimized.

Bottom line: If you can afford it, the new iPad Air is the tablet I recommend, hands down.

 Anand Lal Shimpi – AnandTech

At a high level we’re still talking about two 64-bit Apple Cyclone cores with 128KB L1s per core, a shared 1MB L2 cache and a 3MB L3 cache that services the entire SoC. Apple increased CPU frequency from 1.3GHz to 1.4GHz in the iPad Air, a mild increase but in line with what we’ve seen from previous iPad designs. That’s the first impact on performance – a 7.69% increase in CPU frequency.

The second impact on performance is something I only noticed while digging around under the hood of the A7. It seems like the implementation in the iPad Air can, for whatever reason, hold more instructions in flight (over 20% more) than the A7 in the iPhone 5s. It’s unclear to me whether the A7 in the iPad is configured any differently via firmware/microcode or if perhaps we’re looking at a slightly different revision of the core, but the delta was repeatable in my testing.

The third, and likely biggest change impacting the iPad Air’s implementation of the A7 is the additional thermal headroom afforded by the larger chassis. I’m not going to go into details on exactly what this next test does (unfortunately we’re going to occlude some of the low level work that we do in light of all of the benchmark cheating going on), but we’re looking at a curve of performance vs. time for a particularly power heavy mix of code. We’re running the same exact code on both the iPad Air and iPhone 5s here, the only real difference is the size of the chassis:


Stuart Miles – PocketLint

Apple has done it again: the iPad Air is a tablet better than the last iPad. Simply put the iPad Air is the best iPad the company has ever made. It’s light, it’s thin, it’s fast, it’s amazing.

For die-hard Apple fans we can see how you would be disappointed in terms of wow factor, there is no stand out feature here that you will want to show your friends the moment they walk through the door in the same way you can with the iPhone 5S and Touch ID, however this is Apple creating the ultimate experience rather than focusing on specs for specs sake.

That’s not to say the iPad Air is lacking. it’s not, but here things just work. It is seamless, and you can see that through and through the moment you pick up the new Apple tablet. You aren’t left questioning why things work, they just do, and do every time and for millions of future customers that is and will be very much welcomed.

The potential “but…” comes when you realise how similar the Air is to the iPad mini Retina in terms of design. As much as that’s great from a power perspective, it knocks both tablets out of their individual defining spaces and that will trouble many as to which one to go for. No longer is the iPad mini the poorer sibling.

Clayton Morris – FOX News

At 1 pound, the new iPad Air is impressively light, barely heavier than the iPad mini. My toddler can waddle around the house with it a lot more easily, and I can now use it in bed without worrying that it will smack me in the forehead if I doze off while reading Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” Which has been known to happen with the previous generation iPad.

It’s hard to believe Apple managed to shave nearly a half-pound off last year’s fourth-generation iPad while still maintaining exceptional battery life, which in my all-day usage rarely dropped below 30 percent.

Rich Jaroslovsky – Bloomberg

Apple says the A7 chip and a new motion-detecting coprocessor also help the Air last for 10 hours between charges, the same as its predecessor, despite having a smaller battery. My experience suggests the claim is, if anything, conservative.

I actually grew impatient trying to exhaust the battery in my tests; you should get a lot more than a full day of normal use on a charge.

Ben Bajarin – TechPinions

The A7 being a 64-bit processor has laid a new foundation in mobile computing and it is one that will help the iPad Air stand the test of time. There was a time not too long ago when PC purchasing advisors recommended to consumers to buy as much processor as they could afford. These were the days when megahertz was going to gigahertz. While I don’t recommend consumers buy products solely based on specs, I think the same advice applies to the iPad Air. The A7 helps future proof the iPad Air helping to extend its life and the performance of the tablet well into the future.

Lance Ulanoff – Mashable

Yes, it’s true, the iPad Air is essentially a larger iPad Mini Retina. For some, that’s a disappointment. For me, the new iPad Air is close to everything a consumer tablet should be: Light, fast, fun, beautiful and a little bit like the future.


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  1. haruhiko2013 - 9 years ago

    Did anyone of them mention the RAM amount? Thanks.

    • Joe Duvall (@joeduvall4) - 9 years ago

      Yes. Engadget mentioned that it is still (unfortunately) 1GB:
      “Apple claims that the dual-core A7 chip used here delivers twice the performance and rendering speed and also cuts file-opening times by half. As we said, this is the same processor that powers the iPhone 5s, but the Air offers both cores at a slightly higher clock speed (1.4GHz, instead of the iPhone’s 1.3GHz) and comes with 1GB of RAM.”

    • It still is 1 GB unfortunately, Anand mentioned it. That actually is one of his only 3 gripes with the iPad –> Price, iOS 7’s animations not being smooth enough and, well, the 1 GB of RAM which increases memory pressure in a 64-bit environment.

    • Anthony Moschini - 9 years ago

      1GB – Anandtech

      • I’m amazed at the speed of the iPad Air with only 1 GB of RAM. That means Apple did a HUGE amount of hardware and software optimization to make it fast–something most Android tablets can’t really do.

      • Anthony Moschini - 9 years ago

        Unlike Android, Apple does not need to compensate for any software inefficiencies. Apple have are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in regards to hardware/software optimization and all the things they’ve learnt from iOS has been carried over onto the MAC platform. i.e. Compressible RAM.

    • JoeL Thomas (@J18Way) - 9 years ago

      On Engadget they said it’s still 1GB of RAM

  2. muhammadniaz - 9 years ago

    the device is really a worthy thing should be loved by us.

  3. Actually I am pretty dissapointed by only 1Gb of RAM rumor – have they checked? Cause that a real deal-breaker for me (plz don’t start with ios optimization bs, we all know that 2gb would mean better experience)

    • Unfortunately still 1GB of RAM. Now, I’m not a spec hunter at all, but I’ve noticed how quickly the iPad 4 kills background apps. Launch a big game and the rest is out. Per app memory usage on iPad Air will increase up to about 30% when apps go 64bit.

      I was really looking forward to buying an Air, and I don’t care what SoC is driving the software, as long as it works great. But that 1GB of ram is a big concern to me.

  4. Truffol (@Truffol) - 9 years ago

    That battery life truly shows the quality and efficiency of iOS. We wonder when Google would start replacing Android with Chrome OS on their mobile devices as a clean fresh start to take on iOS.

  5. William - 9 years ago

    Reblogged this on William's iBlog.

  6. Kare Kan - 9 years ago

    iPad is a good product, I bought a iPad Air and I find I love all generations of iPad. But not the battery life. I like to watch movies and play games with iPad, but the battery can’t last long, it’s not convenient, especially when I go out. I recently bought one of portable chargers from Kinkoo to keep my iPad alive: http://www.ikinkoo.com/shop/portable-charger/kinkoo-infinite-one-8000mah.html
    I have found it to be great, with real 8,000mAh and fast charging speed, can charge iPad for 1 time, with juice still to spare. Highly recommended.